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Which of the SEVEN UK airport lounges opening soon am I most looking forward to?

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2019 is gearing up to be a good year for UK airport lounge openings.  The last six months have already seen the new No 1 Lounge in Edinburgh (review), the new SkyLife lounge at Southend (review), the No 1 Clubrooms in Birmingham (review to come) and MyLounge at London Gatwick’s South Terminal (review).

There are more on the way. Because the news has been coming through in bits and pieces you might not appreciate how much building work is going on, so I thought it would be good to do a summary.

Just for fun, I have scored each lounge out of 10 on two criteria:

the first mark is ‘Quality estimate:’ where I say how impressive I think the decor, food and drink offering will be

the second mark is for ‘Customer benefit:’ which is based on how much I think the lounge will improve your airport experience based on the current state of the airport and the other lounges available

After all, an average lounge in an airport which doesn’t currently have one is arguably more useful than a good lounge at an airport which is already full of them.

Lomond Lounge Glasgow Airport

Glasgow Airport – The Lomond Lounge

  • Opening date: early August 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 7

I have started with The Lomond Lounge because I didn’t even know this was coming until a reader tipped me off last week.  The Lomond Lounge is an uber-premium lounge, priced at £40 per person.  According to the lounge website here, it will

“offer signature cocktails, a specially selected a la carte menu and spectacular views of the runway in a relaxing and luxurious environment.”

At £40, with presumably no access via Priority Pass etc, it is unclear who will use this.  I imagine that the airport has done a deal with certain airlines to take their premium passengers as I doubt it would be viable on its own.  The dummy menus online do look impressive, including cooked-to-order pizza.

In terms of competition, I think the British Airways lounge (reviewed here) is very pleasant.  I can’t see any BA passengers with inclusive lounge access paying for The Lomond Lounge.  The existing independent Glasgow lounge, Upperdeck, which I reviewed here is big and bright but underwhelming in terms of decor, furnishings and food, so I expect a big improvement.  This lounge will raise the bar at Glasgow and I look forward to trying it out.

You can book access here.

No 1 Clubrooms lounge Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport – No 1 Clubrooms

  • Opening date: unknown but 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 5

A brand new No 1 Lounge opened earlier this year at Edinburgh Airport – we reviewed it here.  There is more to come, however, as the area next door is being turned into a Clubrooms lounge.  The company has yet to announce this on its website so you need to trust us!

Clubrooms is No 1’s premium brand with table service and free champagne.  No 1 does an excellent job at designing attractive and welcoming spaces so I think we can look forward to a quality product.  You cannot get in for free with a lounge club card, however, unless you pay a £15 surcharge on the door.

Edinburgh is not short of lounges. Apart from No 1 – which is good, and which will satisfy most people – there is an Aspire lounge (average, reviewed here) and for BA travellers a dedicated BA lounge (review).  This is very large but, based on my visit last month, in need of a full refurbishment.

No 1 Clubrooms lounge Luton Airport

Luton Airport – No 1 Clubrooms

  • Opening date: July 2019
  • Quality estimate: 8
  • Customer benefit: 6 (8 if it accepts lounge club cards)

Edinburgh isn’t the only airport to gain Clubrooms.  A facility at Luton Airport is due to open in July.

This will be the first time that No 1 has opened a Clubrooms lounge without already having a standard No 1 Lounge.  This raises questions over whether they will allow Priority Pass access.  I doubt they would be allowed to charge an ‘upgrade supplement’ when there is no No 1 Lounge to upgrade from!

The other lounge at Luton is Aspire, which we reviewed here.  This lounge is fairly new but, because it is usually very busy (and because the airport itself is a mess) I have given Clubrooms a higher ‘Customer benefit’ score than Edinburgh.

With few (any?) airlines offering business class out of Luton, it will be very interesting to see if Clubrooms can pay its way if it does not allow Priority Pass access.  More details can be found on the No 1 website here.

Gatwick Airport (South Terminal) – Club Aspire

  • Opening date: 1st August 2019
  • Quality estimate: 7
  • Customer benefit: 8

This lounge has suffered from excessive delays – it was due in early 2019.  It is taking over about 2/3rd of the old Virgin Atlantic lounge – the other 1/3rd became MyLounge, which has been open for months and which we reviewed here.

This is a much needed lounge.  If you can access the British Airways lounges then you’re fine (see my review here of the EXCELLENT new BA Gatwick lounge complex).  If you are relying on Priority Pass etc, your only option is the No 1 Lounge (reviewed here).  The problem is that No 1 Lounge runs to 100% capacity most of the time and you are unlikely to get in unless you pay £5 to reserve a slot.

Priority Pass seems to be deliberately not working with Gatwick South’s MyLounge.  Collinson, the company behind Priority Pass, is also a 50% shareholder in Club Aspire lounges and probably wants to drive traffic there.  I am guessing that this is also why Plaza Premium in Heathrow Terminal 5 does not accept it, since it competes with Club Aspire.

Club Aspire lounges lack the flair of No 1 Lounges but they are solid and dependable.  Because this lounge should relieve the Priority Pass crisis at Gatwick South I gave it a high ‘Customer benefit:’ score.

Bournemouth Airport lounge

Bournemouth Airport – Premium Lounge

  • Opening date: Was 1st June, now ‘missing in action’
  • Quality estimate: 5
  • Customer benefit: 9

Bournemouth Airport was due to open its first lounge on 1st June.  We wrote about this back in February and an image is above.

The lounge seems to have disappeared, however!  The official page on the airport website has been taken down.  It is still theoretically bookable via the airport website but there are no dates when it shows as available.

I wasn’t expecting a huge amount from this lounge, given that it appeared that the airport was going to operate it directly.  On the other hand, as the airport has no lounge at all today, it is a major improvement for everyone who passes through it.

Amex heathrow centurion lounge entrance

Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 – American Express Centurion Lounge

  • Opening date:  late 2019
  • Quality estimate: 9
  • Customer benefit: 3

The American Express Centurion Lounge network has an excellent reputation.  Over the last few years Amex has opened a number of these spaces across the US and Hong Kong and feedback has been great.  The only problem has been overcrowding.

They are open to all Platinum and Centurion charge card holders, plus guests.

It is fantastic news that Amex is opening in London.  It is less fantastic that they are opening in Terminal 3.  It is a HUGE waste.  Terminal 3 probably has the best collection of airport lounges in the world.  OK, the BA and AA spaces are poor but you’ve got two great Cathay Pacific lounges (review), the Qantas lounge, the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse (review) and, for Priority Pass cardholders, two well regarded options in the No 1 Lounge (review) and Club Aspire lounge (review).

The Centurion Lounge should be better than the two existing Priority Pass lounges but it won’t add much.

PremiAir Manchester Airport

Manchester Airport – PremiAir

  • Opening date:  September 2019
  • Quality estimate: 9
  • Customer benefit: 9

This is hard to believe, I accept, but Manchester Airport is building a private ‘pay to use’ terminal at the airport.  For £50, passengers with just hand baggage and a boarding pass can go directly to the PremiAir terminal and its lounge.  You will be transported directly to your departure gate for boarding.

For £100, you can check in luggage at the PremiAir terminal and be driven directly to the steps of your aircraft.  For £125, you can book a dedicated arrivals service where you will be met at the aircraft and driven to the PremiAir terminal for private passport control and luggage collection.

The existing airport lounges at Manchester are not great, to be polite, and the Priority Pass ones are usually full.  Our recent review of Escape in Terminal 2 is typical.  The airport experience if you cannot get into a lounge is terrible.  PremiAir cannot come soon enough and I can’t wait to try it.

All in all, there is a lot to look forward to in 2019 and we’ll keep you up to speed.  And please let me know if you have any idea what is happening with Bournemouth …..


Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (July 2021)

As a reminder, here are the three options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit or charge card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges. The card has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (143)

  • SimonW says:

    O/T – Have had 2 fraudulent uses of 2 different BAPP supp cards in last 2 weeks. I think both were used to buy BA flights last year….. So keep ’em peeled.

    • Anna says:

      Thanks for the heads up, especially as I’m trying to delay triggering a companion voucher at the moment!

  • Tony says:

    I walked past the BHX clubrooms on Monday and it was yet again deserted. Quite a shame given the dire experience I had in LH’s contracted lounge (Aspire) that had all the ambiance of a pub with a flat roof.

    Do Clubrooms offer the ability to pay an upgrade premium from No.1 lounges if you have PP? I couldn’t justify spending £40 at that point to get access to a different lounge, but £20 would make sense if you can be somewhere that’s quiet enough to think and do some work.

  • Jim Thompson says:

    If the Manchester Airport PremiAir option works out like the rest of the airport’s dreadful operations, what a waste of money that will be.

    • Mr Entitled says:

      If you have been recently you will have noticed the £1bn currently bring spent on rebuilding the airport. Operations should be set for a significant improvement.

      • Jim Thompson says:

        Yes, have been recently, at least once a week. My recent experience was this:

        – pre-book parking in T1 multi-story. Cannot find a space and have to do loops around each floor until a space becomes free. I was starting to get towards an hour from departure so a dreadful experience, particularly as I’d paid £42 for the pleasure of 12 hours of parking.
        – fast-track security queue was pretty much as big as the normal queue. Another dreadful experience which cost me £5 for the pleasure
        – on arrival back into the new pier at T2, we were unable to disembark for 35 minutes while two Swissport employees struggled and failed to join the brand new air bridge to the side of the plane. While 150+ passengers watched the pair of them look like complete muppets, a set of stairs was brought to the back of the plane. That was really handy for those that had paid for seats up-front to disembark first. Another dreadful experience.
        – as my car is in T1, I have to walk back from T2 and find all of the moving walkways out of action. Brilliant.

        So, having used a new bit of the airport that has had some of the £1bn spent on it, it was shambolic. I hold no hopes of things improving but will be pleasantly surprised if they do.

  • Alex says:

    I thought the 1903 lounge at Manchester airport was very good on the two occasions I’ve visited. Much better than the escape lounge.

  • Lumma says:

    Am I the only one who dislikes the Qantas lounge in T3? It looks nice but the downstairs bar is usually closed and you either seem to get ignored by the bar staff or they’re snowed under making a million coffees because “Aussies won’t accept machine made coffee”

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Oh you should see some of their Qantas Pubs in regional areas. QP ASP anyone?

    • Shoestring says:

      Lumma it opens at 4pm, just asked! Ready for people arriving for a 6pm Qantas flight, apparently

    • Jim Thompson says:

      I think it’s an excellent lounge. It’s rarely very busy and has a decent selection of food & drinks. The bar upstairs is always staffed and they are quick to serve some chilled champagne.

  • boi says:

    The Real Harry how did you get extra clubcard points for tesco insurance? I am doing that today

  • Munch says:

    OT Just completed my first statement on my IHG credit card. The total points have posted correctly in the overall total but the qualifying points towards my status have only part posted. Do only certain credit card points go towards status?

  • Travel Strong says:

    Centurion in LHR T3 is great news for platinum card holders flying in economy or premium economy.

    Is the ranking of 3 subconsciously biased by not flying economy since the ark?

    The aspire/no1 lounges are regularly full, and the other lounges are out of scope if not gold or flying business – which I gather makes up the majority of Hfp readership, if not the majority of commentators.

    • Rob says:

      My impression was that Aspire / No 1 were less full in T3 than elsewhere, and of course you can pay No 1 £5 to reserve a slot. And, yes, a large % of our readers have status or are in premium cabins.

      As an Amex Plat cardholder, by defaults, gets access to Aspire and No 1 this lounge is never going to add much. And if you think Aspire and No 1 are overcrowded, you haven’t seen anything compared to how busy the US Centurion lounges get. With all of the Delta and AA passengers in T3 with Plat cards it will be heaving from Day 1.

      • paulm says:

        Any idea where in T3 the centurion is going ? Are they taking over someone else’s space ?

        • Shoestring says:

          Probably up to the left near Club Aspire, they seem to be able to create lounge space up there

      • Doug M says:

        Yes, came through Philadelphia flying AA on Monday and as usual no access to BA lounge, busy/Qatar usual excuses. The AA lounge is a bit meh, so give Centurion a go. Nice food and drink, good place, but was crowded. Centurion really welcoming, they seemed really pleased to have guests. Had some food and coffee there and then moved to AA to just relax. The AA lounge is huge, but doesn’t have much other than lots of room.
        Departed T5 for this trip and a little bored with BA first lounge so tried Plaza Premium. Again very welcoming, if didn’t have BA status Amex Plat would be a good route to lounge access, especially where there are Centurion lounges available.

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